Today marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to honor the lives of those who died because of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. I wish all of my transgender friends and readers love and support on this day of mourning.
Here is the memorial list for this year. It is far too long, though even one name would be too many.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor Rita Hester, murdered on November 28th, 1998,v in Allston, Massachusetts. Morgan Collado’s 2014 piece at Autostraddle, “Remembering Us When We’re Gone, Ignoring Us While We’re Here: Trans Women Deserve More,” remains a must-read.
Last year on TDOR, I quoted fellow blogger and advocate Monica Roberts of TransGriot, who reminded us that TDOR memorial lists “are overwhelmingly made up of trans women of color, and in the US, overwhelmingly Black trans women under age 30. Internationally, they are disproportionately made up of trans women from Latin America and Brazil.” She also wrote way back in 2007 about Rita Hester and the origins of TDOR. Monica herself died this year, of natural causes, after having spent much of her time tracking and identifying transgender victims of murder, many of whom were reported by the mainstream media under their previous, not chosen, names. She showed the injustice in their deaths—but also showed us stories of transgender lives. Her loss will be felt by many today—but there is also a story and a loss behind each and every one of the names on the memorial list. They will all be missed.
For those of us who are cisgender, today is a good day to reflect on what each of us can do to end the violence, starting with our own actions, e.g., using someone’s self-stated name and pronouns, speaking out when we hear anti-trans remarks, and educating our children, no matter what their own identities are, about what it means to be transgender or gender nonconforming. We can celebrate and support the lives of trans people and listen to their stories. We can urge lawmakers to pass trans-inclusive anti-discrimination legislation, to reject legislation that demeans and ignores trans people’s gender identities and right to public accommodation, and to uphold trans people’s right to serve in our military.
May the lives of those lost not be forgotten. May they inspire us to continue working for justice and peace.